Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Artful Home: When Fedrecia Hartley purchased her property several years ago she fulfilled three dreams: brownstone ownership in her Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood; the establishment of a home for exhibiting artists’ works, including her own; and creation of creative art opportunities for community building and empowerment.
Hartley is the Director of Zion Gallery and President and Co-founder of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Artists’ Association (BeSAA).
Hartley obtained her house in 1996, and opened her Zion Gallery in 2005. In this space, residents right here in the community can view art within the framework of a setting that is similar to their own, then acquire these works for their own homes. “It gives collectors a chance to see how the artwork will work in their houses,” says Ms. Hartley.
But the Hartley MacDonough Street homestead is more than a venue to display and sell artworks by famous local artists who live in the neighborhood. Ms. Hartley also hosts workshops for young students – preschool to high school; creates holiday-oriented celebrations, including last year’s Art and Vine mini-fest; presides over meetings for BeSAA, and blueprints major community events, like the recent Bed-Stuy Alive! festival of last October.
In the ground-floor entry hallway, she established the Small Works Gallery – a dedicated space for originals and prints that are 12 inches-by-12 inches or smaller. “As pieces are sold, more are added,” she says. Among the offerings are jewelry, handmade hats and small artworks.
A door on the right leads to the main room of the gallery – which has been home to works by such artists as Otto Neals, Gerald Jones, Olivia Cousins, Annette E. Brown, Halima Cassells, Ramona Candy, Pamela D. Jones, Rita D. Strickland and Maxine Townsend-Broderick.
Ms. Hartley’s major exhibitions have included: Honoring Men with artists Corey Lightfoot, Stephan L. Davis, Cornell Jones and Trevor Brown; Freedom’s Journey: Passageways Along the Underground Railroad featuring the photographs of Cousins, and an exhibition of the art of the Long Island Black Artists Association , among others.
“Zion Gallery functions to collect, preserve, study, document, interpret and exhibit community artists and beyond,” she informs visitors to her blogspot. “While these goals are common to many galleries, Zion Gallery distinguishes itself by emphasizing art’s historical, cultural and social contexts through experimentation and interpretation in workshops, art classes, special events and presentations.”
Fedrecia’s bold signature works, a mixed-media series entitled Urban Flowers, is easily distinguishable. She describes her art as “capturing the everyday beauty and strength that can be found blooming in corners of the vast urban landscape of New York.” This is an appropriate description of the home and gallery – a treasure in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Zion Gallery, located at 152 MacDonough Street, Brooklyn, is opened Saturdays and Sundays, 12 noon to 6pm (by appointment; telephone number is below).
On Saturday, November 21 during the smART Brooklyn Gallery Art Hop, an initiative of Borough President Marty Markowitz (www.visitbrooklyn.org), Ms. Hartley is helming curatorial duties at two galleries: Zion on MacDonough Street and George Washington Carver Gallery at the Magnolia Tree Earth Center, 677 Lafayette Avenue, between Tompkins and Marcy Avenues. Both Zion Gallery in Stuyvesant Heights and Carver Gallery in North Bedford-Stuyvesant will be two of the 69 exhibiting galleries. BeSAA is presenting the Fulton Art Fair artists at MTEC’s Carver Gallery in an exhibition entitled “TREASURES” featuring the works of Brent Bailer, Denzil Belisle, Bob Carter, Olivia Cousins, Bob Daniels, Diane Grazette-Collins, Rudolph Greenaway, Ruben Holder, Gerald Jones, Edward Martin, Dinga McCannon, James Mingo and Emmett Wigglesworth.
“Zion Gallery’s outreach Bedford-Stuyvesant’s “urban landscape” is a realization of the community involvement aspect of Ms. Hartley’s early dreams. “In extending Zion’s and BeSAA’s missions to all parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, we are recognizing our community as a home for artists and a builder of artists,” she says.
For more information about Zion Gallery, BeSAA and Ms. Hartley’s other projects, at home and beyond, visit: www.ziongallery.blogspot.com and www.besaa.org. 718-919-8014